Independent book retailing will return to Peterborough, Ontario, this fall, when local author and teacher Michelle Berry opens the doors on a new shop.
Berry’s Hunter Street Books will open the first week of November in a newly renovated storefront amid the city’s downtown café and restaurant district. Peterborough has been without an independently run first-hand bookstore since the closure of 25-year mainstay Titles in 2012. (A section of the city’s Water Street known as Book Alley once contained five used bookstores; three remain with two contemplating closure.)
Berry‚ whose sixth book will be published by Buckrider Books in September 2017‚ says like most authors‚ owning a bookstore has always been a dream of hers. With most of her teaching work conducted online and her children grown, she says she also craved face-to-face interaction. “I have no bookselling experience, so it’s a steep learning curve‚” she says “But I figure if I don’t take a chance at least once in my life, what’s the point?”
Berry hopes local readers are similarly missing a personal face-to-face touch to bookselling‚ and says she plans to host a variety of events, including book readings and signings‚ launches‚ book club meetings‚ and at least one regular lecture series. With a broad focus covering literary fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, children’s, YA, graphic novels, poetry‚ and eventually magazines‚ Berry plans to curate book recommendations herself, with help from other authors‚ displaying and promoting their suggestions alongside works of their own.
The heavy number of store closures in Peterborough in recent years may not suggest a lucrative book-buying community, but Berry is confident in her plans. “Peterborough gets all the summer tourists — cottagers — and the winter students — from Trent University and Fleming College,” she says. “The downtown core is also constantly getting upgraded with new loft apartments going up, new coffee shops, restaurants‚ and stores. If I can add to the downtown vibe and bring people down to shop, then that’s great. I hope I can give something back to this great city.”